Right - it's been a while. The three of you who read my blog know that Seababy has arrived. She is beautiful, healthy, and now is six months old.
Other exciting news is that I have renewed my USCG license. I hold a 500-ton Mate Oceans license with an Auxiliary Sailing Endorsement. Fancy, right? It took four years at a maritime academy and every summer in between to earn it. Well that license is due to expire in a few months and seeing as I don't have the sea time to properly renew it and I don't care to take the exam with a six month old baby wailing behind me, I have decided to "renew for continuity purposes only". I'm not sure exactly what the origins of this option were, but I am awfully glad the option is there. For someone in my situation it is perfect.
The last time I sailed professionally was an eight- week hitch on a research vessel out of Seattle. I sailed as an AB during the two months I had free from working at a state university as a maritime course administrator. That was in 2007. Since then all my sea time has been on small recreational boats and for pleasure - and sure I have enough experience that I could write my own sea time letter, but I think that's cheating and besides, I'd never be able to fake the tonnage.
So in a last ditch attempt to not totally wave goodbye to the piece of paper with fancy scroll work that I worked so hard to earn, I decided to renew for continuity. The process was frighteningly easy - I printed off the proper forms from the Internet, filled them out, and mailed them in to my local REC. Four – to- ten weeks later I received in the mail from the NMC a license with the words FOR CONTINUITY PURPOSES ONLY written after all my fancy endorsements and qualifications. As I stood there holding it, a feeling of sadness washed over me. Expecting relief, because the process was so easy, the sadness settled heavily on my heart - on my ego. "For Continuity Purposes Only" means that I am not eligible to work under this license. Not as a Mate, not as an AB, and certainly not as a 100 -ton Captain. My license is not expired, but it's also not valid to work on. The ink on the paper looked cheap. The paper felt thin and...worthless.
Then Seababy smiled at me from her blanket on the floor.
It's not worthless. I worked hard for that license and spent four dedicated years studying for it. The reality is I'm not going to sea anytime soon, not on a commercial vessel. Someday - hopefully sooner than later - I will go to sea with my family, Seahusband, Seababy and maybe even MORE Seababies, and I will use that knowledge and maybe even take the exam to make part of my license legit again. The knowledge dosen’t go away, (well OK, maybe my flashing light is a little rusty) but it's all still there and maybe, just maybe, I will find other ways to make to make a living with it. And if not - who cares. I have a bigger challenge on my hands, and this one takes much more than four years of dedication.